By Allyson Kingsley
There is not much new to say for the performances here; as usual, Ross the Boss’ lineup is maddeningly talented, top to bottom. Ross “The Boss” Friedman, in particular, continues to challenge himself from record to record, jamming as many harmonics into his riffs as humanly possible while still maintaining his balance of dizzying complexity and soaring melodies. Vocalist Marc Lope’s performance feels rich and soulful thanks to many a legitimately captivating (“Denied By the Cross”) and monstrous (“I Am the Sword”) style. Mike LePond, an unbelievably talented bassist of Symphony X and his own Silent Assassins fame, adds to the rhythm that you can palpate in the songs. And of course, the cavernous drumming delivered by Steve Bolognese that encapsulates each tune and gives it all a majestic sound.
Opening with the bombastic “Glory to the Slain”, the album achieves immediate lift-off and never looks back. Dramatic, fast-paced tracks bristle with sharp riffs and harbor a superb chorus. Ross is indeed a master of his craft, creating sorcery with his fortress of power metal riffs tinged with flurries of speed, thrashy bits and a melody for whatever reason reminds me of Iron Maiden or Iced Earth. Meanwhile, the bass and rhythm section of “Godkiller” is phenomenal almost tribal. My choice track is “Undying” and having seen multiple performances of Lopes I can picture him beseeching the metal heavens with his towering vocals latching onto your consciousness like a ravenous vampire bat. Straddling the lines between traditional, thrash, and power metal, Born Of Fire is aggressive and fast one moment, but then melodic and restrained the next as fiery, energetic riffs are countered with smooth canorous choruses. The drums can occasionally sound a little hidden during the record’s louder, thrashier moments, and the sequencing doesn’t help create much momentum, but from the performance of frontman Marc Lopes to the impeccable playing of the rest of the band, Born Of Fire is varied, interesting, and still full of that youthful enthusiasm that many others are too old to possess.